THE CHINESE PEOPLE 21
Enormous is the earth,
And the sky is a deep blue;
The wind blows, the tall grass bends,
And the sheep and cattle come into view.
It was with this song that a northern general, after suffering a
heavy defeat, rallied his soldiers and sent them again to battle.
And in contrast to the southern songs of love, we have a general
singing about a newly bought broadsword:
I have just bought me a five-foot knife,
I swing it with a gleaming cadence.
I fondle it three times a clay,
I won't change it for fifteen maidens!
Another song handed down to us reads:
In the distance I descry the Mengchin river,
The willows and poplars stand in silent grace.
I am a Mongol's son.
And don't know Chinese lays.
A good rider requires a swift horse,
And a swift horse requires a good rider.
When it clatters off amidst a cloud of dust,
You know then who wins and who's the outsider.1
Lines like these open up a vista of speculation as to the
diflferences of northern and southern blood that went into the
make-up of the Chinese race, and seem to make it possible to
understand how a nation subjected to two thousand years of
kowtowing and indoor living and a civilization without
popular sports could avoid the fate of civic racial degeneration
that overtook Egypt, Greece and Rome and the other ancient
civilizations. How has China done it?
1 These songs are quoted by Dr. Hu Shih in support of the same thesis.